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"In this moving story of a friendship that survives a queen's rise and fall, Sandra Byrd reaches beyond the familiar stereotypes to give us the story of two remarkable women: Anne Boleyn and Meg Wyatt. A refreshingly three-dimensional Anne and a Meg of courage and integrity make this novel a must for your Tudor library."
“Ms. Byrd shows a wonderful sense of time and place in her novel, To Die For. Her characters and her story are drawn with precision. The new life she breathes into well-worn notables like Anne Boleyn and Henry VIII, as seen through her character, Meg, is simply captivating.”
“Most readers of Tudor historicals think they know Queen Anne Boleyn. They'll meet a very different Anne in Sandra Byrd's wonderfully told To Die For. Anne's life-long friend Meg Wyatt tells the tale of Anne's rise from lady-in-waiting to the arms of King Henry VIII and the throne of England until her tragic fall. Meg, who rises and falls with Anne, seeks her own lost love and faith. Anne's influence during the English Reformation is an integral and refreshing part of this story, one that Byrd tells with authority, adding a new and honest dimension to Anne's life and death . . . A novel to savor and return to.”
“Sandra Byrd's first venture into historical fiction is nothing short of brilliant. All the Tudor details are perfectly placed, like gemstones in a royal crown, yet there is far more to this compelling novel than mere history. The characters live and breathe, their struggles are real, their longings palpable. Seeing Anne Boleyn's story through the eyes of her closest friend provides a well-rounded, even sympathetic view of a woman often vilified in history books. As Meg's story unfolds, Sandra Byrd does Philippa Gregory one better, giving readers a wider glimpse of history, a greater measure of hope, and an ending that satisfies at the deepest level. Simply put, To Die For is the best historical novel I've read in many a season, a masterpiece of history and heart.”
“If you love Philippa Gregory, you’ll adore Sandra Byrd! Through the eyes of Anne Boleyn’s most trusted friend, Meg Wyatt, Ms. Byrd seamlessly weaves sacred threads of history with those of captivating imagination to take us on an unforgettable journey of the heart. The paths we travel—at once both familiar and new—are bathed in hope that casts an eternal light on the characters’ hearts, and the reader’s. I've no doubt that if Anne and Meg could somehow read To Die For, they would thank Ms. Byrd for telling their stories with such grace and beauty.”
"As a reader who appreciates well-researched historical fiction, I truly enjoyed Sandra Byrd's To Die For. Anne Boleyn has long held a fascination for contemporary readers, and I was pleased to discover this account of her remarkable life. Through her charm, intelligence, and wit, she changed the course of history."
"Told through the eyes of Anne Boleyn’s best friend, Meg Wyatt, this stunning novel by French Twist series author Byrd re-examines Boleyn’s life from her beginnings to her rise and eventual fall in the Tudor court. Meg has her own tale of young love and pride, having turned her back on her childhood love when he accepted a religious calling. She travels with Anne to court and finds her life intimately tied to Anne’s changing fortunes. Byrd’s novel adds a depth to the character of Anne Boleyn that is often missing in other novels, and she brings the history to life in exquisite detail. Readers might indeed find themselves sympathizing with the young queen. Highly recommended for fans of Philippa Gregory."
"With the vivid descriptions the author provides, To Die For is an interesting work of historical fiction that offers a fresh look at the court of King Henry VIII."
Year of Our Lord 1518
Allington Castle, Kent, England
Come with me,” I whispered to Anne. She turned to look at her older sister, Mary, busy flirting with our tutors—forbidden, and therefore enticing, conquests. After assessing the safety of our escape Anne turned back to me and nodded. She was up for an adventure, as I knew she would be. Rose Ogilvy sat in the corner, carefully plying her needle in and out of a stretch of muslin. She was seventeen years old, same as Anne and I, but I knew she would shy away from this particular exploit, any particular exploit, in fact. To save her embarrassment I didn’t ask her along.
We slipped out the door, gathered the layers of skirts in our hands, and then raced down the long stone hallway. Recently painted portraits of my Wyatt ancestors were awkwardly affixed to the walls. When he bought the castle, my father, Henry Wyatt, had placed them there to make our family seem more ancient and noble than it was. We were not exactly pretenders but not exactly of Norman blood, either. They stared down at me, ill at ease, smiths and butchers and small-time landowners now forced into velvets and ruffs within a span of time no broader than the width of my hand. And yet we were gentry now. My father expected me to act like the lady he’d suffered to make me be.
We slid out the main entrance, one or two servants catching my eye and warning me back inside with a stern look. “No, Mistress Meg,” one urged me. I disregarded them. They knew what might lie ahead for me—they’d borne the same fate, maybe worse. But I refused to be intimidated.
Anne and I linked arms and strolled toward the rows of unattended garden. Just beyond, on the neatly clipped field, our brothers play-jousted with long branches though all were training for real jousts as well. As we strolled by, my brother Thomas stopped, dipped into a bow, and flourished his hat in our direction. “What a polite young man,” Anne said. “Mayhap you’ll notice, my brother George isn’t tipping his hat toward me.”
I grinned. “My brother isn’t tipping his hat toward me, either. He’d as soon ignore me as do me good. It’s you he’s trying to impress, as well you know.” A light flush of pleasure spread up Anne’s long neck and a little catlike mewl escaped her lips. She fully realized the effect she’d begun to have on men. Whilst she didn’t court their praise, false modesty was not her besetting sin, either.
“I see another bow and this one is particularly in your direction,” she said. I looked up and saw Will Ogilvy.
A year older than I, Will had brown hair that was long and tousled, his face slightly reddened from the joust. I couldn’t help but notice that his arms and chest had thickened over the summer as he grew from a gangly boy into an assured young man. Even from this distance I could see his eyes had the same merry twinkle for me they always had. I nodded primly in his direction—after all, I was a lady, and we were in mixed company. He winked at me.
A wink! The audacity. Who else had seen it?
“Mayhap Lord Ogilvy’s son should come out of the field. He seems to have dust in his eye,” Anne teased. I turned toward her and grinned, thankful for her faithful friendship. She never trained her charm on Will. She knew I planned to have him for myself.
Rewardingly, he seemed completely uninterested in Anne.
We sat in the gardens, enveloped in the haze of the exotic scent of my mother’s jasmine plants, gossiping about overheard conversations between Anne’s ambassador father and high-born mother; they had sent Anne and her sister, Mary, to apprentice at the French court when Princess Mary married some years back and they were to return shortly, after this visit home with their father. We talked about my sister, Alice, who had borne yet another child. I would soon go to stay with her for a few months, if my father allowed it. But as Alice was an obedient girl, marrying young and bearing quickly, my father favored nearly every request she made. Alas, the same could not be said for me.
“We’ve got new horses.” I finally got the conversation around to its planned target. “My father’s horsemaster brought them round last week.”
“Ooh,” Anne said. “Are they fast?”
“I don’t know…,” I answered. We’d prided ourselves—unseemly, I suppose—on riding as fast and as well as any boy in our group.
“Should we see?” she asked me, as I knew she would. For me to suggest the idea would be disobedient, but for me to accommodate a friend would be hospitality indeed.
We ran to the stables and after petting old favorites we walked to the stalls where the new horses were housed. Our vanity guided our choices. Anne picked out her favorite, a raven mare, barely three years old with deep black eyes, like her own. I showed her the one I loved best, a tamed stallion with a thick auburn mane like my own. He glanced nervously about his stall till I gentled him with quiet words and touches.
“Should you have them saddled?”
“My father shouldn’t be home from court till tomorrow morning.” Then I called over a stable boy. “Saddle these two for us, please.”
“If ’n you say so, miss,” he said, unable to disobey me but nervous nonetheless. I smiled kindly at him, hoping to gentle him as I’d done the stallion.
“I do,” I said. And then Anne and I raced and rode.
The fields were thick and green, flowers clinging on the tips of the field grass, ready to fall forward into the late summer’s heat. We slowed when we came to the woods and picked our way through the tangle of downed trees, their mossy shroud bringing a soft, dank smell.
“I’ve missed this,” Anne said. “My father won’t let me ride our horses unattended anymore.”
“Mine says the same.”
“Why did you not say anything when I suggested the ride?”
“I felt it would be our last time, as girls,” I told her. “We’re becoming women now and our lives are going to change.”
We turned our horses around, back toward Allington.
I felt his eyes upon me afore I saw him from a distance. My father stood in front of the stables. My first trembling urge was to turn my mount and gallop back into the woods, as far as he could carry me, and not return. If Anne hadn’t been with me, I might have. But I couldn’t leave her and anyway, where would I go?
“Your father…,” she said softly, though I heard her over the hoofbeats.
I nodded. “He’s home early.”
We rode the mounts into the stable. My father stood at the door, looking at me and no one else. My brothers, and Anne’s brother, George, were there, and Will Ogilvy…. as were all their sisters. Like a bearbaiting, I thought. Everyone come to witness the bloody violence, some there of their own will and pleasure, like my warped brother Edmund. The others dragged there by convention or lack of choice.
My father indicated that we girls should be lifted from our mounts—more to protect the horse than myself, I knew.
“I thought I told you not to ride alone. And you certainly understood not to lather my new mounts.” He tapped his horsewhip against his riding boot.
“I’m sorry, Father.” I felt a trickle of sweat course down my back; it felt like a spider scurrying away.
“It was really my fault.” Anne nobly stepped in and tried to protect me. “I suggested it.”
“And I could have told her no.” I spoke up, not willing to let her shoulder the blame on her own. I needn’t have bothered.
“Thank you, Mistress Boleyn,” Father said. “But Mistress Wyatt knew not to ride out and chose to disobey me anyway.” He cheerfully dismissed the Boleyn and Ogilvy children to the manor; their servants waited to take them back to their homes.
We Wyatt children knew to stand fast. My brother Edmund grinned. Thomas focused his eyes on the ground, as always. I knew my father would be softer on me if I cried, but I refused to.
I looked at my friends hastily retreating in the distance, and just as I locked eyes with Will, my father struck.
He backhanded me against the cheek and for a moment I felt nothing but my teeth chattering as if they would loosen in my heavy skull. I fell to the ground. He yanked me to my feet and then slapped me from another angle. Blood dripped out of my nose and I felt the tingle through the top of it and across the bridge above my eyes. In the distance, I saw George Boleyn restrain Will from coming back to the stable and I silently thanked him.
I stood up because I knew my father didn’t want me to. I fixed my eyes on his, not blinking, willing myself not to be snuffed out, and forced out the words that we both knew were meaningless. “I’m sorry, Father. Would you forgive me?”
“You’re to be a lady, do you hear me?” he roared. I stood still as he strode back to the house, Edmund nipping at his heels. Thomas waited behind for me.
At the end of the summer our tutors held a picnic for us on the grounds of Hever Castle, the Boleyns’ home. Each of us was going a separate way, and though we would join again for social occasions and perhaps further instruction, we would not gather together weekly or monthly anymore. My brother Thomas would soon be sent to Cambridge and Edmund and I would continue at home with private tutors after my visit with Alice. My mother, ill again, could not be parted from me.
Anne, and her older sister, Mary, of course, were going back to the French court to serve Queen Claude. My father allowed a servant to take me to Hever Castle, the Boleyns’ family seat, the day before the picnic so we could look through Anne’s wardrobe trunks as girls are wont to do.
“Ooh, look at this!” I held up a skirt and stomacher of emerald green, perfect to set off her dark skin and eyes. “The waist is tightly fitted.” I danced around the room with it and curtseyed to my imaginary suitor.
“Yes, I know,” Anne said drily, rolling her eyes at me. It wasn’t hard to see which of us was the refined friend and which the spontaneous one. Anne had a smart fashion sense and knew how to show off her best features.
She held up another gown, this one of navy satin, slashed to show a snowy white kirtle below with long French sleeves. “I think this would look good on you.”
“I do, too. Shall you leave it here?” I teased.
“No, but sketch it quickly, if you want,” she said. “They’re in the French fashion, my father had them made for me in France. No one here will wear anything like them. Just you!”
I took a piece of paper from her study book and quickly drew a few of her dress designs. Our seamstress could do a rough copy, I thought. Perhaps not perfect, but still.
I ran my fingers through the treasures in her little jewel cabinet and then brushed my hand over the stack of her hose—silk, not cotton as we were used to. “I think your father has grand plans for you and your sister.”
“He’s the ambassador to France. Mayhap he wants England to be well represented,” she answered evenly.
“Mayhap,” I said. “Are you nervous?”
She nodded. “They have such big expectations for me and for Mary. And if we don’t meet them, they’ll set us aside. It’s family advancement first…. and last.”
I nodded, wishing I could contradict her, but our friendship had been built on honesty and I wasn’t about to belittle it now with a soothing lie.
“I believe in you,” I said. “And I’ll pray for you every day.”
She squeezed my arm. “I know you will. I am glad one of us has faith.”
“You have faith!” I contradicted her.
“Not like yours.”
After leaving her things for her maidservant to repack, we went down to the gardens outside.
The chairs and table were set up in neat little quartets on the Hever property, and Master Ridley, our music teacher, had recruited friends to play lutes. The notes wafted over the field, the sweetest of aural perfumes. The mood was one of love, of friendship, of pledge. We’d all been forged together and though circumstances might separate us for a time, we were somehow inextricably bound for life. I sat down alone at a table near the edge of the garden, a private spot, and wished it to remain so but for the company of one.
My wish was granted.
“May I join you?” Will approached. I remained seated, as a lady should.
“Of course.” I gestured to the seat next to me with grace and dignity that would have made my father proud. I caught Anne out of the corner of my eye gently steering the others to different tables so Will and I might have some time alone.
“What’s this?” He touched the wreath of daisies I’d woven whilst waiting for the day to begin.
“A wreath of the last flowers clinging to summer,” I said. “Something to both pass and mark the time.”
“There is no flower here to contend with you. You believe they’re dying off because it’s the end of summer? Methinks they saw the competition and realized they must capitulate.”
“Will Ogilvy, are you practicing courtly manners on me?” I teased.
“No,” he said. “I mean it. May I have this wreath as a keepsake?” I wound it around his fingers and I wished it were my hand I was placing in his instead of that which my hand had created.
I nodded my agreement and kept my eyes lowered. For once, overcome by the moment, I had no smart retort.
We sat for a little while, intensely aware at the adult turn in our relationship. Will cheerfully turned the topic back to mathematics, and then horses, and finally Latin, which we both loved. We sparred over the rendering of a certain word, and in the end I believe I won.
“Succumbo,” he admitted. “A rare victory, and one you will not soon duplicate.”
“Is that a challenge?” I teased. But then his look turned somber. “Why not?” I asked, more subdued as I sipped from the goblet in front of me and tapped at the light sheen on my forehead with my kerchief.
“My father is sending me to Cambridge.”
“Ah.” I nodded. So now I knew why my brother Thomas was going to Cambridge. Not that my father couldn’t have thought of it on his own, but he admired the Ogilvys and Boleyns as his betters in many ways. Feeling unsure of himself, he often imitated their choices. If only he would send me to France!
“I’ll surely see you at pageants now and again,” Will said. “And at the Christmas celebration at court.”
“Surely,” I agreed, knowing that those pageants and jousts would be infrequent, that my mother was often ill and required my companionship, and that the studies at Cambridge were demanding and could take up to eight years to complete.
“There are so many different teachers there.” His voice rose with excitement. “I hope to learn more about our Lord too. What we have here is so….” He shrugged his shoulders. “Limited.”
I nodded, happy for him but envious of his opportunity. Anne and I had many rigorous debates about holy things, too, which would have horrified my father and even Will, had they known. “You’ll do well. I’m glad for you.” I echoed the sentiment I’d given Anne just an hour before, and the words, whilst well-intentioned, felt as dry in my mouth as my oft-prattled apologies to my father.
“There are fine days ahead for you, too, Meg.” Will rested his hand on the table near mine, not able to take mine in his while others were around but showing me what was in his heart by his gesture. “I know it. Omnino scire.” He used the Latin word that meant “to know something without doubt, to be certain.” Strangely enough, I believed he was right. I’d had the feeling that their ships were setting sail, leaving port perhaps a year or two afore my own, but that my ship would set sail, too, and it would be in the same direction. I looked at Will, suffused with happiness, and Anne, an already court-worthy hostess. Then I looked toward the sky, where the heavy gray clouds of late summer were already beginning to clot.
Lady Boleyn, ever the chaperone, made her way toward our table. As reluctant as I was to see her come, I understood she had my good name and Will’s in mind.
“I’ll send you a note sometimes through my sister, Rose,” Will said, and I nodded.
“Tui meminero,” I said. I will remember you.
Perhaps because he was leaving and felt free to be candid, he answered me back more strongly. “Te somniabo.” I will dream of you.
Later in the afternoon, when the others had mostly returned home, I stayed to say my final good-bye to Anne. We walked in the garden and sat on a bench, carved gargoyles expressing silent horror over her departure. “I’ll miss you,” I said. “Our constant companionship. Studying together.”
“I’ll be home soon. If Mary or George gets married or if someone dies….”
“Don’t say that!” I told her, aghast. Even my jesting wouldn’t go that far.
“No, no,” she reassured me. “And then, soon, I’ll be home to stay.”
“Yes,” I said. “And things will be as they ever were between us. We’ll marry rich, titled, wonderful men, and have renowned parties and beautiful children.” I looked at the gathering storm clouds and knew that if what I sensed was true then I was a liar and, worse, was breaking our friendship pledge of honesty. And yet I wasn’t sure my impressions were true. They were wobbly things, jellies to roll out from under my thumb as soon as I tried to pin them down.
To make things even, I offered another oath. “You know how the boys, ah, relieve themselves together when they make a promise?”
Anne, mannered and discreet, looked at me, shocked. “Surely you can’t be suggesting….”
I blushed. “No, no, I speak too fast.” Oh my, what would my father think if he could overhear me now? “I just meant we could plight an oath too. Afore you leave.”
She nodded and turned toward me on the bench before speaking. “A friendship oath. So you won’t choose Rose Ogilvy as your dearest friend in my absence.”
“As much as I like Rose, she’s not the Ogilvy I desire to pledge an oath with,” I teased, and we laughed. It was one of our friendship’s better qualities, the ability to laugh together in the most difficult moments. “And make sure you don’t find a French friend to replace me,” I said.
“Never.” She reached up and plucked one of the roses. She pricked her finger with its thorn till a little drop of blood oozed out. “It didn’t hurt much….”
I looked at her hard, reminding her of the difficulties I faced with my father. “A poke to the finger is not going to harm me,” I said, grinning. I pierced my finger too.
We held our fingers together and commingled our blood, friends to the end, never leaving one another’s side, loyalty firmly pledged, come what may.
© 2011 Sandra Byrd
Posted November 18, 2011
I have heard so many beautiful things about this book, I knew that I had to read it. To Die For is in my mind the perfect Historical novel. Rich in detail, and characters, this book was nearly impossible to put down yet at the same time I want to just sit back and enjoy it.
Meg Wyatt is the faithful friend to Anne Boleyn, the 2nd wife of Henry VIII, and the mother of one of England's most memorable monarchs, Queen Elizabeth. To Die For chronicles the rise and fall of Anne Boleyn to power and back down again.
Many books fiction and non-fiction alike both like to paint Anne as evil or as a witch, so I was glad to find a book that portrayed her more realistically. The historical accuracy and believability was spot on for me, it read like a novel, yet I learned things at the same time :)
Meg was a very easy to relate to character that I quickly connected with. I experience what it was like to be in the court of Henry VIII all through the pages of this book. It was an absolute pleasure to read!
One of my favorite Christian heroes has always been William Tyndale, and I was happy that his work was not ignored, in fact, the effect of that his explosive translation of the New Testament had on the Christian world.
Overall this is a book I would highly recommend to lovers of Christian Fiction, and Historical Fiction, or anyone who loves a well woven story. As I read it quickly became a favorite and is probably one of the best books I've read this year. This book is a MUST READ!
Final Rating: 5.4 out of 5
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Posted August 24, 2014
Sunday, August 24, 2014
To Die For: A Novel of Anne Boleyn ~ Book 1 in the Ladies in Waiting series by Sandra Byrd, ©2011
Author Sandra Byrd has written a very thorough account of the Tudor period under the rule of King Henry VIII through the eyes of Anne Boleyn's trusted and truest friend, Anne (Meg) Wyatt, her childhood companion and wardrobe mistress at Court.
I liked the first person telling as only a dear friend can; one who is an honest and forthright teller of day-to-day happenings and conversations. Historical fiction is my very favorite genre. Are we to repeat history or reclaim what is rightfully ours? A choice to be made, for sure.
In this telling of Anne Boleyn, I liked Meg and her character very much. She rose above a mistreated home life to become very valuable in following a calling she believed was hers. In putting her life solely for the betterment of her friend, in servitude, she gained a worthy stand above reproach. Trust and fidelity brought her a remarkable outcome.
Notice the necklace on the cover of this novel! Anne Boleyn, whether innocently or contrived became entangled in the life of Henry VIII, a villain in his own right ~ possibly starting out with good intent but becoming ensnared in his own deceit and power. During this time, the Tyndale New Testament of the Bible was being printed in English. Secret meetings during the English Reformation were attended not only by those in agreement, but by those wishing to stand by the king and his rulings. Anne sought to set in power those with alliance to the reform; Henry wanted to affirm his sovereignty. He passed acts beneficial to himself. Seeking a male heir, he found ways to dismiss his wives.
Included are listings of Family Trees showing their connection to each other within the story; author notes, research sources, reading group guide, and author Q&A.
***Thank you to author Sandra Byrd for this copy of To Die For: A Novel of Anne Boleyn and the insight of the Tudor period. This review was written in my own words. No other compensation was received.***
Posted September 3, 2012
We know how it ends for Queen Anne Boleyn. This novel is from a new perspective. History has shown that Anne Boleyn was at least interested in the ideas of the English Reformation. This novel is from a Reformist's POV; Anne's Mistress of the Wardrobe, Meg Wyatt.
It is a dangerous time in Reformation England. The mercurial Henry VIII is executing both Protestants and Catholics. No one is safe. The King wants the ancient wealth and authority of the Catholic church but also to deny Tyndale's English Bible to his subjects. Owning an English Bible is punishable by death.
Queen Anne is under the pressure to bear a male heir and the emnity of those at court.
Posted August 30, 2012
Sandra Byrd is an accomplished writer of historical fiction, and this novel based on the life of Anne Boleyn and her friend and confidant, Meg Wyatt, is a fine example of that polished writing excellence.
How deep is your friendship with your closest friend? Would you walk with her (or him) through high places and danger, through life and the path to death? Meg chose to remain Anne Boleyn's friend even when her friend made terrible choices. Many people make unwise choices, and Anne's choice to become Henry VIII's second wife was one of those. Carried away by King Henry's charm and believing his lies about his first wife, Anne Boleyn waits for Henry's machinations to put his first wife aside to become complete. They marry, and Anne becomes the queen.
As the queen's closest friend and confidant, Meg's star rises with Anne's and crashes as Henry becomes discontent with his beautiful wife's inability to give him an heir. Meg prays for her, rejoices with her, and despairs for her, as a true friend should always strive to do. So many of us give up on friends as they disappoint us--but Meg didn't desert her even when Anne treated her with disrespect.
Anne Boleyn's story has always fascinated me, and it's been so fun to learn more about her and become acquainted with Meg Wyatt, the friend who continued to succor her doomed companion all the way to the tragic finale.
Thank you, Sandra, for a heart-wrenching and -warming historical fiction with amazing attention to details of history during that period of the Tudor reign.
Posted July 22, 2012
I am familiar with the story of Anne Boleyn, but it was a refreshing to read historical events from the perspective of her friend/lady in waiting.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted July 2, 2012
Posted June 15, 2012
This was a very good book. The author took historical facts about the relationship between Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn and created a great story line. The marriage between these 2 was much more than a great romance. The decision for England to break ties with the Vatican had far reaching impact that carry forward to modern times. It is difficult to imagine how powerless women were during this era. The dependence on male relatives to make decisions that would determine your fate for the rest of your life is difficult to comprehend. I've read many books on this subject, and this one by far has the best mix of historical facts and entertaining story line.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted May 24, 2012
If you want to read a novel about Anne Boleyn, read this one!
Another reviewer was correct when she said that every once in a while, a book comes along that transcends your expectations for a genre. Yes, this story has been told before, but not in this way—not from this perspective, not with this depth of insight into a character that readers think they already know.
I’ve never read any work from an inspirational historical fiction author who is this good at writing. Sandra Byrd expertly blends interesting facts and compelling characters into a novel I couldn’t stop reading until I’d reached the last page.
I’m looking forward to reading her next book, which comes out in a couple weeks.
Posted May 18, 2012
I loved this book! I appreciated by Sandra Byrd's writing as she gave the perspective of Anne and her lady in waiting in such a way I almost felt like they were neighbors. I enjoyed the POV of Meg presented and her deep devotion and commitment to Anne inspite of her own personal desires. I enjoyed as well as the positive characteristics of Anne because others make her out to be a hateful queen. It was interesting to see the Bible's involvement at this time of history also. It was all presented delicately and yet thoroughly. Again I am so glad I read this book and have already ordered the new book coming out by this author.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted November 23, 2011
Although the novel To Die For by Sandra Byrd is a novel about Anne Boleyn, it is told through the first person narrative of Meg Wyatt, her friend, and true historical personage. From their early youth to Anne¿s final moments, Meg tells the story of this fascinating queen¿s life, from its fabulous rise to its tremendous fall.
Sandra Byrd did a wonderful job at writing a well researched story. The writing flowed seamlessly and drew me into the story from first to last page. I was impressed because she skillfully weaved political fact and Reformation details throughout with such ease, and so simply, that it was not obtrusive or confusing in the least. I especially appreciated the fact that there just enough characters for me to follow and remember as I read along.
To Die For is the first book in a new series entitled The Ladies in Waiting Series. I hope that future books in the series will branch out beyond the over-done Tudors. With plenty of intrigue and twists and turns, this is an all-around, multi-dimensional novel with plenty to keep one reading to the end.
Posted October 25, 2011
Posted October 9, 2011
This was a different spin on the Boleyn family, as told by Meg Wyatt.Although the author explains that not much is known about the second Wyatt sister who attends Anne Boleyn until her death, I feel her historical explanations were quite plausable.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted September 16, 2011
Every so often a book is written that completely overcomes all expectations you have for a genre. To Die For by Sandra Byrd is that novel. Not only does it bring to the forefront issues of faith but loyalty and the importance of sisterly affection between friends in a way that males you forget you're reading fiction. Fans of Tudor England and the life of Anne Boleyn will love this story regardless if they like Christian fiction or not. Byrd deftly ties in the faith of the characters with the historical goings on of the Church of England in the 16th century.
This isn't the first time that I've read a story of the Boleyn family but it is by far one of the best. To Die For involves Meg Wyatt, Anne's friend from childhood and follows her life and Anne's life as their stars rise at Court and through Anne's demise. The entire story took only a day to get through because I so wanted to know what happened to Meg. We all know how Anne's story ended but between her birth and untimely death there is a lot speculation on who she really was. Ms. Byrd did an excellent job making Anne as a woman relatable, Anne as a friend realistic and Anne as a queen unshakable and Meg a friend in and lady in the truest sense. I think she did both of the ladies justice.
If you want to read story that blends fact and fiction seamlessly, read this. If you want to read a story of the power of friendship, read this. If you want to be thoroughly entertained and strengthen your faith at the same time then by all means read this book! If you don't believe me, as of 9/16/11 every single review on Amazon is 4 stars and above and for good reason.
*I received my complimentary copy courtesy of the author and publisher in exchange for posting my honest review.*
Posted September 7, 2011
To Die For does more than retell Anne Boleyn`s tragic life through the eyes of a proverbial fly-on-the-wall. Sandra brings Anne's loyal friend, Meg, to life in a way today's reader can relate to. Is there a Meg in each of us? Do we have friendships, loves, and faith willing to die for? Even if it means letting go of our personal dreams?
What makes Sandra's book unique in the company of Anne Boleyn novels is her tenderness. While most novels make Anne out to be "the other woman" or a "schemer," Sandra braves a vulnerable approach. I believe her angle makes To Die For a must read for the historical fiction lover.
Posted September 6, 2011
Before I launch into this book review, I need to go ahead and admit that with my limited writing abilities, there is no way I will be able to do this book justice. I honestly wasn't sure if I would like this story or not, but there were two reasons I wanted to read it. First of all, I love Sandra Byrd's books. I read her entire French Twist series and it has remained one of my favorite fiction series. Also, I wanted to read this book because my roots go back to northern England. In fact my dad was born in Hexham, so my interest in the history of this part of the world is pretty high. I have never known much about Anne Boleyn or Henry VIII, just the basics of what history tells us. I was interested to read a novel about Anne Boleyn written by someone who actually took her time to thoroughly research these people, places and the time period. So, I opened To Die For and found myself swept into a world and story far beyond my wildest expectations.
I started reading this book like I do any other book, but soon found that I was reading a story that I fell in love with. There were so many factors that caused me to have such strong feelings about this book. For one thing, Sandra's writing was absolutely flawless. She did something that few authors, in my humble opinion, can do. She used authentic language to the place and time when the characters were speaking without slowing the story down. I usually find that to be a distraction, bordering on a pet peeve when I'm reading a book, but Sandra managed to make it work flawlessly and the book moved at an even pace and remained authentic.
The story was incredible as well. The loved the strong bond between Anne and her best friend Meg. It was refreshing to see that despite Anne's rise to becoming Queen of England, she remained true to her friend and her friend remained true to her right up until the end. We all know how this story ends, but there were still some nice surprises that helped this book come full circle to a satisfying ending. I don't know exactly what all was fact and what all was fiction, but I just loved the story too much to get hung up on the details. There is an intensity to this story that builds steadily throughout and makes this book so engaging and hard to put down.
What else can I say about a book that was everything good literature should be, and then some? To Die For is one of those books that stays with me, even now, a few days after finishing it. I would like to read it again someday because I'm sure there are some details I missed on the first read. But, until then, I will simply cherish this book as much as I cherished it while I read it. I can't recommend this book strongly enough. It is going on my short list of all-time favorite books. Thank you Sandra for telling Anne's story. Any reader will see that this book was truly a labor of love and should be savored and cherished.
Posted September 5, 2011
I very much enjoyed this book. It was skillfully written and obviously carefully researched. While I remain unconvinced about some of the the author's interpretation of Anne Boleyn's character and motivations (though Anne was almost certainly not guilty of most, if not all, of the charges for which she was executed), I found her portrayal of the time of King Henry VIII and the Reformation fascinating, and I very much enjoyed the story of Anne's fast friend, Meg. And this book has the most gorgeous cover I've seen in a very long time. Definitely worth reading.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted September 2, 2011
What would you sacrifice for your best friend? Would you die for her? Meg Wyatt has been Anne Boleyn's best friend since they were girls growing up on neighboring manors in Kent. And it's no surprise that when Anne's status starts to rise, she takes Meg along for the ride. Attending court, attention from the king, it all seems glamorous at first, but then it turns deadly. I really enjoyed 'To Die For'. There was a lot of history, even though this was a fictitious tale. Much of the stuff that was mentioned happened and I thought the characters were very entertaining. I did, at times, feel slightly bored and I found it easy to put 'To Die For' down and stop reading for awhile. I think 'To Die For' is best suited for mature audiences because it has a beheading (if you are at all familiar with Henry VIII's story, you know what I am talking about), plus it also mentions things that I don't think would be appropriate for young teens. I probably enjoyed Meg's story the most, as I felt for her when certain things occurred. I really liked the Christian story line as well. The difficulties of reformation and getting English translation Bible's in the churches. It makes me think of how easy it is nowadays to read God's Word and yet, I sometimes take it for granted. I find Henry VIII's story very interesting, therefore it was no surprise the I enjoyed 'To Die For'. I recommend 'To Die For' if you enjoy historical novels. ?Many thanks to Sandra Byrd and Howard Publishing for my review copy. The opinions I've expressed are my own.?Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted August 8, 2011
"You have lived a good life, my dearest, loveliest friend. You have born the weight of England's Reformation on your shoulders. You have used your influence to place men who stand solely on Scripture"-I looked at her almoner-"throughout the Church of England and they will stand, and lead others, long after you are gone. You have borne a good daughter. You have been a most excellent wife and loyal friend. The rest is now to faith." -Meg Wyatt, To Die For: A Novel of Anne Boleyn I love to read. My mom taught me how to read before I ever entered kindergarten. It has been one of the greatest gifts she has given me. The test of a good book for me is when I am finished, it is bittersweet. Bitter because it is over, but sweet because I got to experience the journey and be a part of the story for just a little bit. For me, To Die For: A Novel of Ann Boleyn, found that bittersweet quality, but in a totally different way. It was sweet because I got to experience the journey. Granted it is a fictional rendering of actual events in history, but still I got to experience the lives of those included during the events surrounding the lives of King Henry VIII and his second wife, Anne Boleyn. It may also be bitter because it had to end; a novel always does. But it is just a temporary ending, for I know one day the story will continue, only in Heaven, and I and many others will be present, including the late Anne Boleyn. For a long time, the opinion I held of Anne Boleyn was unfavorable, due to my limited knowledge. She even aggravated me a little throughout the book. But now, that is all changed. Told by her closest friend, Meg Wyatt, To Die For chronicles, in fiction form the pursuit of Anne Boleyn by Henry VIII. This pursuit, as history so clearly states, ultimately results in Anne's demise. Most powerfully along the way, we are drawn into the Protestant Reformation and its withdrawal from the Roman Catholic Church as authority on all matters related to the Church. Tucked in the story of marriage, reformation, and death, is the forbidden romance of Meg Wyatt and Will Ogilvy, called to be a priest, focused on reform in the church, the scriptures being made available to be read by all. I truly enjoyed this book. Sandra Byrd's extensive research on Anne Boleyn is evident in this fictionalized account of her life, marriage, and all those involved in the events of the royal court during the time of Henry VIII. The hand of God is revealed so beautifully by Byrd as she brings to light the role that Anne Boleyn's life played in the reform. Although the author states that most of the story related to Meg, our storyteller, is fiction, her character is compelling. She has many endearing qualities which keeps the reader cheering for her until the very end. When I read a book that moves me, I always want more, which prompts further research on my part, to separate the fact from fiction. This is another one of those books! The student of history will enjoy this book. Women who enjoy romance will not be disappointed. Lovers of historical fiction will be overwhelmed. I recommend it to all who wish to learn about an extremely pivotal point in the history of the Church. I hope your heart is touched and your perspective of events in history refreshed. Many blessings as you read! Disclosure: I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to give a favorable review. The thoughts and opinions expressed here are entirely my own.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted August 4, 2011
"Hank the V-I-I-I put poor Katie by and married young Ann Boleyn who tried to please but she soon went wrong by singing her song all out of key, it was his masterpiece". Well, these are the lyrics to a ditty that kept humming through my head from my Jr. High concert in 8th grade as I read this story about the ill-fated 2nd wife of King Henry the VIII. Admittedly the lyrics from this song were a bit on the corny side, with some " hey nonny, nonny" type lines thrown in for good measure, but I assure you nothing about this book "To Die For" by Sandra Byrd was corny, but beautifully written from a new point of view. That would be from the point of view of Anne's long time best friend, Meg Wyatt, as she is by Anne's side while they are teens with crushes on boys all the way to the royal court and becoming her wardrobe mistress, watching Anne become a queen and staying loyally by her side until her unfortunate death. This story was beautifully woven together with wonderful intricacy in keeping the historical life of Anne Boleyn intact, while adding the wonderful fictional elements of the girl's friendship as well. The English Reformation element to the novel were very well done and interesting to read as Sandra Byrd's comments about the strength of Henry and how "God often uses the strongest beast, not the gentlest to plow the hardest fields" and "how "what might have been intended for selfishness or evil and certainly did cause pain to those involved, eventually yielded a harvest of goodness." These comments were taken from the Authors Q&A found at the back of the book and so very well said. I highly recommend the reader takes the time to read that section- so informative and interesting to read. One can shake their head at Henry and his utter selfishness, or see that good was accomplished in the middle of all the pain that transpired. The character of Meg Wyatt is one to be admired for sure in her dedication to Anne Boleyn as a true and faithful friend. That's not to say that she is not without her challenges and wrong turns here and there. Her life is not an easy one with an abusive father, a vindictive brother and at the outset of the novel finds out that the man she loves has chosen the route of becoming a priest. But even in the midst of all of her trials, she becomes a character that you are rooting for and one who is selfless until the very end, a tried and true friend. Since the story is told from Meg's point of view, you really are hoping that all will be well for her in the end which makes the story so enchanting, because you obviously know what Anne's fate will be, but with Meg being the heroine of the story it gives the tale a newness and intelligence that I fell in love with. If you are a fan of "Tudor England" I have no doubt that you will truly enjoy this book. It was very well told and an engaging story that historical buff or not, I sincerely believe all would appreciate the writing, characters, and fascinating storyline presented in To Die For. Sandra Byrd has written many great YA fiction books that my daughters have thoroughly enjoyed in the past. It is a wonderful thing that we can now all share Sandra Byrd as an author whose work, we all have read and loved. 5 stars. I graciously received a free copy of this book for review purposes from the publishing company. I was not required to write a positive review. All opinions expressed are my own.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted October 8, 2012
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